One Man, Two Guvnors

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One Man, Two Guvnors
Written byRichard Bean
Date premiered24 May 2011 (2011-05-24)
Place premieredLyttelton Theatre

One Man, Two Guvnors is a play by Richard Bean, an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters (Italian: Il servitore di due padroni), a 1743 Commedia dell'arte style comedy play by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni. The play replaces the Italian period setting of the original with Brighton in 1963.[1] The play opened at the National Theatre in 2011, toured in the UK and then opened in the West End in November 2011, with a subsequent Broadway opening in April 2012. The second tour was launched six months later, playing the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. The second UK production in London closed in March 2014, before a third tour of the UK began in May 2014.


In 1963 Brighton, out-of-work skiffle player Francis Henshall becomes separately employed by two men – Roscoe Crabbe, a gangster, and Stanley Stubbers, an upper class twit. Francis tries to keep the two from meeting, in order to avoid each of them learning that Francis is also working for someone else. Complicating events, Roscoe is really Rachel Crabbe in disguise, his twin sister. Roscoe had been killed by Rachel's boyfriend, who is none other than Stanley. Complicating it further still is local mobster Charlie the Duck, who has arranged his daughter Pauline's engagement to Roscoe despite her preference for over-the-top amateur actor Alan Dangle. Even further complications are prompted by several letters, a very heavy trunk, several unlucky audience volunteers, an extremely elderly waiter and Francis' pursuit of his two passions: Dolly (Charlie's feminist bookkeeper) and fish & chips.


National Theatre (2011)[edit]

The play premiered at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre from 24 May 2011 (previews from 17 May) and continued until 19 September. Nicholas Hytner directed James Corden in the starring role of Francis Henshall, with associate director Cal McCrystal responsible for the physical comedy.[2] The play contains songs written by and performed by "The Craze", in a "skiffle band" style, led by Grant Olding.[3] "The Craze" consisted of Grant Olding (lead vocals, guitar, keys, accordion, harmonica), Philip James (guitar, banjo, backing vocals), Richard Coughlan (double bass, electric bass, backing vocals) and Ben Brooker (percussion including washboard and spoons, drums, backing vocals). The music is written and composed by Grant Olding.

1st UK tour (2011)[edit]

Following its engagement at the National in London, the play began its first national tour of UK prior to a West End engagement in the Autumn. Stops included Aylesbury Waterside Theatre (27 September–1 October), Plymouth Theatre Royal (4–8 October), The Lowry, Salford (11–15 October), Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre (18–22 October) and the King's Theatre in Edinburgh (25–29 October).[4]

West End (2011–14)[edit]

The show then made its West End debut at the Adelphi Theatre, with Corden still in the lead role. Previews began 8 November 2011, ahead of an opening night of 21 November.[5] The run ended 25 February 2012 and subsequently transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 2 March 2012, with Corden's role being taken over by his first cover Owain Arthur.[6]

Beginning performances 4 February 2013, Rufus Hound took over the title role, with Arthur returning to the role on 23 September 2013 after his run with the tour. Other replacements throughout the run would include Hugh Sachs as Harry Dangle, Angela Griffin as Dolly and Kellie Shirley as Pauline, reprising her role from the tour.

The London production concluded a three-year run on 1 March 2014.[7] This came with the announcement that the show would return to tour the UK for a third time.

Broadway (2012)[edit]

The play then premiered on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre with an opening night of 18 April 2012, following previews from 6 April. James Corden reprised the role for American audiences.[8][9][10]

The production received four nominations for the Outer Critics Circle Award: Outstanding New Broadway Play, Nicholas Hytner (Outstanding Director of a Play), James Corden (Outstanding Actor in a Play) and Tom Edden (Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play).[11] Tom Edden went on to win the Outer Critics Circle Award for 'Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play.'

For the 66th Annual Tony Awards in 2012, the play received seven nominations: James Corden for Best Actor in a Play, Tom Edden for Best Featured Actor in a Play, Nicholas Hytner for Best Direction of a Play, Grant Olding for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater, Mark Thompson for both Best Scenic Design of a Play and Best Costume Design of a Play and Paul Arditti for Best Sound Design of a Play.[12] James Corden went on to win his Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

The limited engagement concluded 2 September 2012.

2nd UK tour (2012–13)[edit]

A second UK touring production starring comedian Rufus Hound in the lead role, began 25 October 2012 at Curve in Leicester, on a run through 4 November. It then visited Theatre Royal, Newcastle (6–10 Nov), Glasgow Theatre Royal (13–17 Nov), Belfast Grand Opera (20–24 Nov), Blackpool Grand (27 Nov–1 Dec), Norwich Theatre Royal (4–8 Dec), Leeds Grand Theatre (11–15 Dec), Llandudno, Venue Cymru (2–5 Jan 2013), Salford The Lowry (8–19 Jan) and Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre (22–26 Jan), before ending with a run at Theatre Royal in Nottingham (29 Jan–2 Feb). Richie Hart, Philip Murray Warson, Oliver Seymour Marsh and Billy Stookes formed "The Craze" for this tour.

International tour (2013)[edit]

Following the second run of the UK, the production continued to tour to other countries from 25 February until 29 June 2013. Debuting at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong as part of the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival, the tour subsequently visited Her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide, Australia, The Aotea Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, The Sydney Theatre in Sydney, Australia, before culminating at the Playhouse in Melbourne, Australia. Owain Arthur lead this cast, with his role in the London production being taken over by Rufus Hound.

3rd UK tour (2014–2015)[edit]

Beginning performances 14 May 2014 at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield, One Man embarked on its third national tour of the UK.[13] The final performance was in Wolverhampton on 21 March 2015.[14]

Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne 2017[edit]

An Actor-Musician adaptation on the play featuring popular music of the 1960s began in June 2017 for a residence at Eastbourne's Devonshire Park Theatre.[15] The final performance was on 22 July 2017.

New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme 2024[edit]

The play was featured at the New Vic Theatre , Newcastle-under-Lyme from April to May 2024, directed by Conrad Nelson. The production received received enthusiastic reviews.[16][17] The theatre-in-the-round format allowed all the audience to be close to the performers, and a number of the audience were briefly co-opted onto the stage.[citation needed] The final performance was on 11 May 2024.[16]

Potential revival[edit]

Original director Nicholas Hytner revealed in a 2023 interview that he and James Corden were planning a revival of the play following Corden's return to the UK after hosting The Late Late Show. According to Hytner, the revival will take place either at the Bridge Theatre, where Hytner serves as artistic director, or on the West End in late 2023 or early 2024.[18]

Casts (Original National Theatre production)[edit]

Character National Theatre UK Tour West End Broadway 2nd UK Tour 3rd UK Tour Eastbourne
2011 2012 2012 2014 2017
Francis Henshall James Corden Rufus Hound
Owain Arthur (Llandudno, Cardiff and International Tour)
Gavin Spokes Aidan O'Neill
Stanley Stubbers Oliver Chris Edward Bennett Patrick Warner Dylan Turner
Rachel Crabbe Jemima Rooper Amy Cudden Alicia Davies Ruth Westley
Dolly Suzie Toase Amy Booth-Steel
Jodie Prenger (Blackpool and Salford)
Emma Barton Jessica Warbeck
Charlie Clench Fred Ridgeway Colin Mace Shaun Williamson
Norman Pace (Oct – Jan only)
Patric Kearns
Pauline Clench Claire Lams Kellie Shirley Jasmyn Banks Celeste Collier
Alan Dangle Daniel Rigby Leon Williams Edward Hancock George Jennings
Harry Dangle Martyn Ellis Nick Caveliere David Verrey Matt Devitt
Lloyd Boateng Trevor Laird Mark Monero Derek Elroy Trevor Michael Georges
Alfie Tom Edden Peter Caulfield and Mark Jackson Michael Dylan Peter Lovstrom
Gareth David Benson Ben Livingston Matthew Woodyatt Eliot Harper Callum Hughes

West End (Haymarket) replacements[edit]

  • Francis Henshall – Rufus Hound, Owain Arthur (closing)
  • Stanley Stubbers – Sam Alexander (closing)
  • Alfie – Tom Edden, Peter Caulfield (closing)
  • Rachel Crabbe – Amy Cudden (closing)
  • Dolly – Angela Griffin (closing)
  • Charlie Clench – Ian Burfield (closing)
  • Pauline Clench – Kellie Shirley (closing)
  • Alan Dangle – Dominic Thorburn (closing)
  • Harry Dangle – Hugh Sachs (closing)
  • Lloyd Boateng – Derek Elroy (closing)

Live broadcast[edit]

On 15 September 2011, the production was broadcast to cinemas around the world as a part of the British National Theatre Live program.[19]

This recording was made available on YouTube for one week starting 2 April 2020, as the opening production of National Theatre at Home – a series of free broadcasts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[20] It was watched by around 2.5 million viewers.[21]

The play is also available to stream on Drama Online (with subscription).

Critical reception[edit]

One Man, Two Guvnors received widespread critical acclaim. The Guardian gave it 5 stars, saying that it was "A triumph of visual and verbal comedy. One of the funniest productions in the National's history."[22] The Daily Telegraph described it as "the feelgood hit of the Summer."[23] The Independent wrote that it is a "massive hit"[24] and London's Evening Standard as "a surefire hit".[25] Blogging site Everything Theatre described it as "one of the most side-splittingly hilarious productions ever to be staged in London".[26]

The show won Best Play at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for 2011.[27]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
2012 Tony Award Best Original Score Grant Olding Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play James Corden Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play Tom Edden Nominated
Best Direction of a Play Nicholas Hytner Nominated
Best Scenic Design in a Play Mark Thompson Nominated
Best Costume Design in a Play Nominated
Best Sound Design in a Play Paul Arditti Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music in a Play Grant Olding Won
Outstanding Actor in a Play James Corden Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Tom Edden Won
Outer Critics Circle Outstanding New Broadway Play Won
Outstanding Actor in a Play James Corden Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Tom Edden Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Play Nicholas Hytner Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Production of a Play Nominated


  1. ^ Spencer, Charles (25 May 2011). "two Man, one ≤≥ Guvnors – Productions". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  2. ^ "One Man, Two Guvnors – Productions". National Theatre. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  3. ^ Jones, Kenneth (26 February 2012). "Swinging 'Skiffle' Rock of One Man, Two Guvnors Will Be Heard on U.S. Release of Cast Album". Playbill.
  4. ^ "Kings Theatre: One Man, Two Guvnors". Ticket Soup. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011.
  5. ^ Girvan, Andrew (12 July 2011). "James Corden's One Man Moves to West End's Adelphi". What's on Stage.
  6. ^ Paddock, Terri (15 December 2011). "One Man, Two Guvnors Transfers to Haymarket, Arthur Replaces Corden". What's on Stage.
  7. ^ "One Man, Two Guvnors to close in 2014". The Stage. 30 August 2013.
  8. ^ "One Man, Two Guvnors transfers to Broadway". The Daily Telegraph. London. 16 November 2011.
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth (16 February 2012). "Full Cast of Broadway's One Man, Two Guvnors Announced; Many Original Cast Members Cross Pond". Playbill.
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth (18 April 2012). "Food, Glorious, Food! One Man, Two Guvnors, a London Slapstick Hit, Opens on Broadway 18 April". Playbill.
  11. ^ Gans, Andrew (23 April 2012). "62nd Annual Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations Announced; Nice Work Receives Nine Nods". Playbill.
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew; Jones, Kenneth; Hetrick, Adan (1 May 2012). "2012 Tony Awards Nominations Announced; Once Earns 11 Nominations". Playbill.
  13. ^ "On Tour". One Man, Two Guvnors. Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Current Tour Dates". One Man, Two Guvnors. Archived from the original on 8 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Tickets on Sale now for One Man, Two Guvnors!". Eastbourne Theatres. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  16. ^ a b Brennan, Clare (21 April 2024). "One Man, Two Guvnors review – this exemplary staging outdoes the original". The Observer. Retrieved 14 May 2024.
  17. ^ Redfern, Aimi (19 April 2024). "Review: One Man, Two Guvnors at the New Vic". Stoke on Trent Live. Retrieved 14 May 2024.
  18. ^ Bamigboye, Baz. "Breaking Baz: The Musical Comedy Romance Of 'Guys & Dolls'; James Corden Eyes Return To London Stage; The Marvel Of Julianne Moore In 'Sharper'". Deadline. Retrieved 4 March 2023.
  19. ^ Broadcast information. "One Man, Two Guvnors". Archived from the original on 1 September 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  20. ^ "NT at Home: One Man, Two Guvnors". National Theatre.
  21. ^ "Watch Benedict Cumberbatch in Frankenstein with National Theatre at home". Welwyn Hafield Times.
  22. ^ Billington, Michael (24 May 2011). "'One Man, Two Guvnors' – review". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Spencer, Charles (25 May 2011). "James Corden stars in the feelgood hit of the summer at the National Theatre". The Daily Telegraph.
  24. ^ Taylor, Paul (26 May 2011). "'One Man, Two Guvnors', National Theatre: Lyttelton, London". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022.
  25. ^ "One Man, Two Guvnors is a surefire hit". Evening Standard. London. 25 May 2011.
  26. ^ "One Man, Two Guvnors, National Theatre". Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  27. ^ WestEndTheatre. "Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Winners 2011". London theatre tickets. Retrieved 22 June 2019.

External links[edit]